Journal Article

What is a book?


The aim of this paper is to reach a level of conceptual clarity about what we call a book. The motivation for this exercise lies in the desire to chart the trajectory of the book as a cultural phenomenon in light of the gradual move to shorter textual expression that is taking place alongside the delivery of stories in other forms besides text. For this purpose the article takes a historical perspective without, however, attempting to chart all the phases in the development of the book. Concurrently with the move to shorter textual expression, in the digital reading environment the basic elements of the 1964 UNESCO definition of the book (printed, a minimum number of pages) have had to be left behind. Alongside the arrival of new publishing business models, the entire notion of the book is in jeopardy. This set of developments calls for a fundamental reconsideration of how we define a book in relation to other book-like objects and text forms. The approach taken is iterative, moving closer towards a definition of the book whilst acknowledging the arrival of offspring such as the ebook and audiobook.

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Kova─Ź, Miha
Phillips, Angus
van der Weel, Adriaan
Wischenbart, Ruediger

Oxford Brookes departments

Oxford International Centre for Publishing


Year of publication: 2019
Date of RADAR deposit: 2019-09-19

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

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